INTERVIEW: Allen Maldonado Talks The Last O.G., Black-ish and His Everybody Digital App
While he’s known for his roles on ABC’s Black-ish, FXX’s You’re the Worst and the upcoming TBS comedy The Last O.G., he’s an actor who doesn’t limit his possibilities. Consider him a presence in a multi-platform sense.
In addition to starring in movies and television, he’s a senior staff writer for the Starz series Survivor’s Remorse. He owns his own film and music companies, and he’s created Everybody Digital, an app that hopes to make it easy for people to access short film content. “We’re the short film version of Netflix,” Maldonado tells TV Goodness.
Talking to this master multi-tasker, his fierce drive to succeed is immediately apparent.
“I want to be my best and work the hardest to achieve the highest achievement that I can,” Maldonado says.
He’s someone who doesn’t sit back and let things happen. He continues to challenge himself because he knows it can all end in the blink of an eye. When he was 21, he almost lost his life when a drunk driver hit him.
“I know that every day could be my last so everyday I just strive and wake up to be as great as I can,” Maldonado explains. “So the one day I do look down on myself, and look down on my body, I can say I did anything in my power to be the best that I can be.”
And now he’s landed in a comedy with one of the best comedians in the business, Tracy Morgan. In The Last O.G., Morgan plays Tray, a man recently released from prison after serving 15 years. He returns to his Brooklyn neighborhood only to find the place has drastically changed.
“I’m excited for people to see Tracy be Tracy. He’s an icon, he’s a legendary comedian, and has done phenomenal work over his career,” he raves. I think this show is giving the world the opportunity to see Tracy in full bloom as far as who he is, where he comes from.”
Maldonado’s character, Cousin Bobby, serves as Tray’s unofficial guide into this gentrified version of his hometown. “I play his cousin who kind of re-acclimates him to society and always gives him the wrong ideas at the right time. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’m funny.”
He says he’s already learned a lot from Morgan. “To always be on, man. Tracy is always on, he’s always telling jokes, he’s always performing, he’s always training, and he’s always working to get better. For me, it’s to never, never get comfortable with my work or what I want to achieve in life. I’ve learned a lot of tips, ways to handle myself on set, and ways to better myself to get into character. He’s just a phenomenal mentor, and big brother to me.”
“We both share traumatic accidents,” he continues. “We definitely share an intimate connection about life after death. Being that you don’t have forever, so you must enjoy the moment and appreciate every second you have on this earth. Being that you never know when it could be taken away from you. So, enjoy life, love, live, and laugh.”
Heads up, Maldonado fans. He will not appear as Honey Nutz in the fourth season of You’re the Worst due to filming The Last O.G. (“It finally got a little tough for me to try to make it through.”)
But he does hope to return should the series earn a fifth season renewal. “The cast is incredible. We always have a good time. I love the take on relationships this show has, and how we intervene, and somehow get thrusted in this crazy world between these two just ridiculously, unstable, individuals,” he says. “It’s good writing. I love the concept, and I love the direction where they go, and I’m very fortunate to be a part of it.”
Thankfully, the California native will be a part of the fourth season of ABC’s Emmy-nominated comedy Black-ish where he recurs as Curtis, the assistant to Anthony Anderson’s Dre at the Stevens and Lido ad agency. When we chatted with him he was about to head back to the set to film an episode.
“I can’t really tease much. The show is set to premiere on October 3rd, and this is my first week back,” he explains. “What’s beautiful about Black-ish, is that we have our finger on the pulse of society and we kind of touch upon topics that need to be discussed in a way that we can actually communicate to each other.”
Another one of Maldonado’s projects also tackles tough topics in a comedic setting. As a writer on Survivor’s Remorse, he and the rest of his colleagues often dig deep to put their spin on some dark and socially relevant topics. He feels the trick is to make it as real as possible.
“That’s life. That’s life, man. Same thing that will make you laugh, will make you cry,” he says. “I think its hard to stay in one note of comedy the whole time, and still stay funny. Where if you have a balance of dramatic elements, you have a balance of actually people having a heart and caring about these characters in a different way you set up jokes even better.”
“For me, I believe it’s a better set-up for comedy when you have these dark moments, you have these intimate moments where you really learn to love these characters so you actually enjoy life with them,” Maldonado adds. “That’s the whole joy of writing and being able to create these worlds where people watching can be thrusted in them and be involved, and be invested, and I think that’s what makes Survivor’s more special.”
Something else that makes his experience with the show more special is working withÂ Survivor’s Remorse creator and head writer, Mike O’Malley. Yes, he’s the actor that once starred as Kurt Hummel’s dad, Burt, on FOX’s Glee.
“Mike O’Malley has been incredible for me in my career as a writer. He has been one of my biggest champions,” he says. “He’s the one that gave me a shot at being a writer. He took a chance. He was the first one to bring me on board and really believe in me as a writer. So I will forever be in debt to him in regards to giving me the opportunity to become a writer. And learning from him, learning what it takes to be a show runner, and the type of effort and heart that he puts in, in every episode. He lives, breathes, eats, this show.”
Learning from each of his experiences can only help him in his non-acting-and-writing pursuits like Everybody Digital, the short film app he’s developed.
“I’m a short filmmaker and for years I would produce and create these short films that would win countless awards, and because of the short window, it’s heartbreaking being that you only have 12-15 months to really showcase and put out your films and after that it’s just dead.”
His intention is to extend the shelf life of this creative and valuable form of expression and have them make an impact beyond film festivals.
“I wanted to be able to create more eyeballs and visibility for short films,” he says. “We have films, award-winning films, from like ten years ago that are incredible that have phenomenal actors, phenomenal production, storylines, etcetera, that have never been seen by the average consumer.”
“There’s an industry where people are making a lot of money, and short films have been left in the dark. There’s no form of income, and we have a plan that in two years we will create an industry for short films, and people that create short film content, in that manner, will be able to get paid.”
Everybody Digital launches October 3. Season 4 of Black-ish also premieres on October 3. Survivor’s Remorse currently airs Sundays at 10/9c on Starz. And keep a lookout for Maldonado’s TBS comedy The Last O.G.
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